Wildflower is published quarterly by the Wildflower Center. Its content is national in scope with articles about the conservation and use of native plants as well as news from the Wildflower Center. A subscription is provided to Wildflower Center members as a benefit of membership.
Letter from the Editor - Winter 2005Soon after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in early September, the EPA declared it the largest natural disaster the agency had ever faced. The immediate and vast human suffering was quickly compounded by serious concerns about air and water pollution, especially in the affected areas of New Orleans. Contaminated debris, spillage, and storm waters from the massive energy and chemical industry facilities in Katrina's path contributed to the environmental destruction. Important wildlife habitats and natural areas also were affected. According to the Houston Chronicle, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service estimated that Katrina had reduced one of the 16 wildlife refuges along the Louisiana coast the 18,273-acre Breton National Wildlife Refuge to half its size, causing $94 million worth of damage to its facilities.
Speculation over what might have been done to prevent some of the hurricane's effects will likely continue for many years. However, already the outcome of the storm has focused attention on scientists' earlier warnings about the disappearing Mississippi River Delta and the hazards of floodplain development.
Although arguably not as catastrophic in terms of human or ecological toll, the situation brings to mind the effects of the massive rock/debris avalanche spawned by the eruption of Mt. St. Helens 25 years ago a topic we cover in this issue of Native Plants. In Turf Battle (pages 18-23) Roddy Scheer examines how nature has handled ecosystem restoration at the monument site and surrounding landscape, as well as how native and invasive plants still compete for space and nutrients there today.
This issue�s other articles look at different important plant themes. In Crop Marks (pages 24-29) we discuss plants that changed the world the theme of the 2005-06 Distinguished Lecturer Series co-sponsored by the Wildflower Center and the Botanical Research Institute of Texas.
Nature's Pantry (pages 12-17) focuses on an issue to which all gardeners can relate: how to attract wildlife to their gardens during winter. Columns this winter cover garden planning (For Every Season, page 11); an interview with native plant expert Sally Wasowski on gardening with prairie plants (Native People, pages 30-31); conservation development in Texas (Field Notes, pages 7-11); and how to make and use natural dyes (Root of the Matter, page 32).
I hope that all of this issue and every issue of Native Plants speaks to the importance of understanding the dynamic ecological processes that surround us and sustain our natural world. My wish is that Native Plants will inspire us all to push for environmentally sustainable development solutions that can better withstand and more readily recover from nature's inevitable and dramatic events.